Share your personal walking route experiences in Scotland, and comment on other peoples' reports.
Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.

14 Easter Donalds...and my 1000th SIMM

14 Easter Donalds...and my 1000th SIMM

Postby weaselmaster » Tue Mar 29, 2016 7:05 pm

Grahams included on this walk: Ballencleuch Law, Queensberry

Donalds included on this walk: Ballencleuch Law, Cairnsgarroch, Carlin's Cairn, Comb Law, Coran of Portmark, Cramalt Craig, Dollar Law, Earncraig Hill, Gana Hill, Lochcraig Head , Meaul, Queensberry, Scaw'd Law, Wedder Law

Date walked: 28/03/2016

Time taken: 21.75 hours

Distance: 102.9 km

Ascent: 4767m

1 person thinks this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).

The Easter Holidays were upon us already. I had taken the Wednesday afternoon/Thursday off to maximise the hill time - originally I had hoped we might spend the time in Mull, but a combination of Allison's ongoing incapacity and a poor weather forecast ruled that out - instead I decided I'd just press on with the Donalds and Allison could tag along for a change of air. This meant having to plan campsites that allowed her some opportunity to have a wee wander whilst I was off doing the hills - Bridge of Cree campsite in Newton Stewart was our first location for 2 or 3 nights - we'd see how things went.

Wednesday afternoon was quite pleasant and I drove down via Carsphairn, to nip off the outlier of Benniner - something that would have been easily added onto Cairnsmore of Carsphairn - but when we were doing Corbetts, New Donalds really didn't feature on the "must bag" list. I'd looked at a couple of routes up Benniner and decided to go for the simplest, basically the Cairnsmore of Carsphairn route up from the Green Well of Scotland. I fine tramp - lots of sheep keeping me company as I walked through the famrlands then cutting up the side of Willieana and following the steep fence line up Dunool. From here a boggy bit or two to cross before rounding the southeastern aspect of Black Shoulder and making for Nick of the Lochans, thence up Benniner itself. With more time I'd have re-visited Carsphairn, but with Allison waiting in the car it was unneccessary and I romped back down in good time. We then drove the rest of the way to Newton Stewart and pitched the tent just before the rain began.

Green Well of Scotland
ImageP1120399 by Al, on Flickr

Cairnsmore/Benniner in the distance
ImageP1120400 by Al, on Flickr

Benniner from Nick of the Lochans
ImageP1120403 by Al, on Flickr

Cairnsmore from Benniner
ImageP1120404 by Al, on Flickr

beniner(1).gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Thursday started wet - it had rained throughout the night. I got up early and drove back up to Carsphairn, roads empty in the early morning. Set off from the parking spot at Bridgend to take in the circuit of Meaul/Carlins Cairn, which we had started back at the turn of the year but abandoned due to deep snow. I walked past the lead mines, being aware of the terrain up onto Knockower and then following an ATV trail to Coran of Portmark. It rained steadily and visibility was not good as I rose above 500m. Got to the cairn and in what seemed no time I was at the next summit, the New Donald of Bow. A bit more effort was required to get to the Trig point summit of Meaul, but not much. Despite the weather I was quite enjoying this walk. However things got harder getting up to Carlin's Cairn, the extra 100 or so metres dramatically increasing the sense of exposure to the wind and sleet. At times I was struggling to remain on my feet, so that when I saw the mammoth cairn with a hollowed out inner I was much relieved. I sat in the relative calm of the shelter having my lunch - or second breakfast really - it was only 10.25 :lol:

ImageP1120407 by Al, on Flickr

Coran of Portmark
ImageP1120408 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120411 by Al, on Flickr

Carlin's Cairn
ImageP1120412 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120413 by Al, on Flickr

From here I had to re-trace my steps up to the summit of Meaul then head east, again along the fence line to the final hill of the day, Cairnsgarroch. Descending from here needed some care due to crags. A rainbow spanned the valley below as I headed down, over the burn with the skeletal bridge remains and back, over the mine works (being careful not to uncover a mine shaft :shock: ) to rejoin the path I'd walked in on. Was quite pleased with the time taken too. It dried up a bit in the afternoon and we went for a drive to the D-Day practice harbour at Garlieston then out to the Mull o'Galloway to see the lighthouse and gaze out to sea. Hoped for a visit to the pub in Port Logan but it was under refurbishment. Back at the tent an early night was in order as I had a big day planned for Friday, the best looking day weather-wise.

Cairnsgarroch from Meaul
ImageP1120414 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120416 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120417 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120418 by Al, on Flickr

meaul4.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

I'd originally intended to split the southern Lowther Hills over two days and relocate to somewhere nearer like Beattock. However, looking at the map it occurred to me that the hills could be combined in a circular route from the north, which had the added advantage of a higher starting point too. What's not to like. So off I go through St Johns Town of Dalry, Moiniaive, Thornhill, stuck behind a self-drive van that was doing my head in. Finally got shot of him on the A76 and enjoyed a better drive from there to the start of the small road to the Daer Reservoir and Kirkhope Farm which was my destination. Got a bit lost and ended up in the water works, but saw I'd missed a right turn and got to my destination in reasonable time all things considered. Parked on a verge and set out. Given the late change of route, I'd no planned route in my GPS, so wasn't sure just how long it would be. I'd decided to go up Nether Law/ Over Law and onto Lambs Hill as this gave a much kinder gradient than the fiercely steep sides of Rodger Law etc. The going was a little marshy in places but nothing too bad. I could make out Earncraig Hill up ahead and was pleased to see I wasn't that far off the original route along the tops. I got a little confused thinking I was making for Mid Height rather than Penbreck - it would have eventually led to the desired destination of Queensbury, just taken a bit longer.

Start of the route
ImageP1120419 by Al, on Flickr

Earncraig in centre shot
ImageP1120420 by Al, on Flickr

Queensbury in the distance
ImageP1120422 by Al, on Flickr

Penbreck foreground, Queensbury behind
ImageP1120423 by Al, on Flickr

Correcting my error I ended up at Capel Yetts, facing the very steep side of Penbreck. I took the fence line up and humphed over that hill, then down the other side all the way to Queensbury, the cairn of which is some way from the fence line. I felt quite tired, but was glad I'd got the furthest away hill in the bag. Back over Penbreck then down the steep side and up the flank of Earncraig Hill past some bemused sheep. I could see the round of hills stretching away to my right - I could also see the weather coming in - looked like it might be snow - I cursed the forecast for being wrong (although in actual fact the rain held off all day). Another steepish descent along a wall line then Gana Hill rose in the distance - quite a boggy section to cross on the way to it - met a bloke who was doing the same circuit but in reverse - this heartened me as if he'd done the remaining hills in the time it had taken me to do the first ones then it must be an easier out leg for me. I pressed on to the top of Gana Hill, which gets a good road at the top for some reason. I could see another undulation down to Wedder Law, on the way to which I found an extinct Met Office balloon and parachute.

Queensbury from top of Penbreck
ImageP1120424 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120426 by Al, on Flickr

View over the circuit to come - Gana hill on the left
ImageP1120427 by Al, on Flickr

Steep side of Penbreck
ImageP1120430 by Al, on Flickr

Gana from top of Earncraig
ImageP1120432 by Al, on Flickr

Near top of Gana
ImageP1120435 by Al, on Flickr

Summit Gana
ImageP1120436 by Al, on Flickr

Wedder law
ImageP1120438 by Al, on Flickr

Another 100m up to Wedder Law then a brief dip to Scaw'd Law. From here I could see the end of the route - it's a short distance along the ever present fence line to the Graham of Ballencleuch Law, then off to the left I could see Comb Law hiding behind Rodger Law- this was an outlier that would add 5km onto the circuit. Ballencleuch was easy to summit then I dropped down into boggy ground riven with peat hags to get over to Hirstane Rig and Comb Law beyond. This was a bit irritating - it would be possible to avoid them by losing more height or by keeping high along the fence line and taking more distance to cover. I squelched a middle line and slowly got to the top of Comb Law, with fine views across to the huge windfarm over the A74. Tracking back I had 1 hill remaining. I contoured round a bit lower and aimed directly for the flank of Rodger Law, aonther 100m or so of ascent won't kill me. A trig point is reward for my travails and then it's down the steepish south eastern shoulder of Rodger back to the farm. I can see the car waiting patiently, which spurs me on - I pick up an ATV track over the final section of the descent and feel a good sense of acomplishment with today's wanders. It doesn't take too long to head back to Newton Stewart and we visit the delights of Little India for a no-bad curry.

Summit Wedder
ImageP1120439 by Al, on Flickr

Scaw'd Law
ImageP1120441 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120444 by Al, on Flickr

Summit Ballencleuch, Comb to the Left, Rodger ahead
ImageP1120445 by Al, on Flickr

Another Graham gets it
ImageP1120446 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120447 by Al, on Flickr

Daer Reservoir
ImageP1120448 by Al, on Flickr

Summit Comb
ImageP1120450 by Al, on Flickr

Rodger from Comb
ImageP1120452 by Al, on Flickr

Summit Rodger
ImageP1120453 by Al, on Flickr

Kirklands Farm
ImageP1120455 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120456 by Al, on Flickr

gana7.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

The forecast for Saturday is horrendous and I decide I'll do a tiny walk that day and we'll relocate thereafter. The north top of Shalloch on Minnoch is another New Donald - again simple to pick off from the Corbett... oh well. I decide to cheat and take the shortest route from just south of Stinchar Bridge. Everything is soaked, the roads deep with surface water and I create fountains and cascades as I drive through. Little else on the roads apart from one lumbering forestry lorry which comes on towards me like a juggernaut. I park up in one of many laybys and prepare for the water assault. It's blowing a hooly and pouring - nice. First there's the little matter of a wee burn to cross. I take a look - at about 6 feet wide I can't jump it - will be a wet start to the day to wade it...with no other options that's what I do. Water's up to mid thigh but I'm not prepared for the strength of the current and I am swept off my feet - fortunately I grab a rock on the other bank, but not before I'm in chest deep and have banged my left thigh on some unseen rock under the water. I haul myself out, drookit and set off up the heathery hillside, before long picking up a path that makes the going a bit easier. It does get very boggy in places, but I am so wet I don't really care. I am aware of having the same burn to cross over on the way back, niggling at me all the time I'm heading uphill. After a wet and windy slog I reach the small cairn at the summit. I hope that the path might end in an easier place to cross the burn than I took, but it doesn't, still a raging torrent. I consider going round to the bridge, but that would involve various convolutions, forestry and no guarantee I didn't have to cross tributaries....so I just go for it again, this time lowering myself in and bracing against the current, still a bit frightening. I am totally soaked when I get back to the car and drip all the way back down the road - I'm also feeling the cold now and it takes hours to fully warm up despite changing clothes and putting the heated seat on.

Caerloch Dhu
ImageP1120457 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120458 by Al, on Flickr

wet & windy
ImageP1120459 by Al, on Flickr

The wee burn
ImageP1120460 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120461 by Al, on Flickr

shall.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

We pack up the tent and head off in the rain to Dumfries. I reckon we can get lunch there and then head towards what I've decided will be our location for the next 2 nights - Tibbie Shiels campsite near Cappercleuch. Dumfries is wet, but the food in the Hulabaloo restaurant is fine (they have a separate vegan menu so SK is spiolt for choice). we walk around own for a wee bit then head off back to Moffat, up past the Grey Mare's Tail and to Tibbie Shiels. Which appears deserted and more worryingly, the camping field seems largely submerged. Not good. I'm annoyed by this failure of reality to adhere to my plans and search google for alternatives, ending up choosing Rosetta Caravan park in Peebles - further than I wanted to be from the hills round the Meggat water but more suitable for Allison. We pitch up and prepare for a night of gales.

Sunday's forecast is for strong winds, hail and thunder - fab. I would have liked to have tackled the Talla Linnfoots circuit but I reckon that's too big for bad weather, especially having to include Lochcraig Head and Carrifans Gans. Nope, it will be Cramalt Craig and Dollar Law for me, with a couple of New Donalds - Clockmore and Hunt Law thrown in. I drive down the B709 then along the Meggat Reservoir road for 3 miles until I reach the indent at cramalt. There's a parking spot on the waterside and I leave the car there (unfortunately left my map and snow goggles in the car..). I set off back to the road and up the very steep start of Clockmore, which eases onto a more pleasant gradient. Hailstones intermittently lash me and I pull the brim of my cap ever lower to fend them away from my face. Hauling myself up the slopes of Cramalt Craig i look over to Broad Law and see the high level bealach between the two hills. More snow/hail against a black sky as I reach the summit cairn on Cramalt.

Start of the walk at Cramalt
ImageP1120462 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120463 by Al, on Flickr

Meggat reservoir
ImageP1120466 by Al, on Flickr

Towards Cramalt Craig
ImageP1120467 by Al, on Flickr

Around 750m
ImageP1120469 by Al, on Flickr

Broad Law
ImageP1120470 by Al, on Flickr

Summit Cramalt Craig
ImageP1120471 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120473 by Al, on Flickr

Now I have to drop down to Hunt Law - about 2.5km each way...damned outliers! It's boggy across the flattish area before Hunt Law rises, there's a good track up the last 50m or so of Hunt Law and I'm then heading back up Cramalt, contouring round northwards toward Dun Law to avoid unnecessary ascent. It feels decidedly wintery up here today. I reach the fence line and trot up to Fifescar Knowe then the few hundred metres to Dollar Law. When we did the circuit on the opposite side of the valley recently, Dollar Law was sillhouetted against sunshine - today it is blasted by freezing winds and icy hail, I hunker down on the leeward side of the trig point to have my lunch and think how to get down. I have my GPS map and it looks like I can go down over Notman's Law then pick up a track running alongside the cramalt Burn - this I do with little difficulty - only irritant is that it starts raining heavily when I'm a few hundred yards from the car, soaking my gear which had managed to dry off largely due to the fierce wind.

Hunt Law from Cramalt
ImageP1120474 by Al, on Flickr

Nice weather
ImageP1120475 by Al, on Flickr

Summit Hunt
ImageP1120479 by Al, on Flickr

Cramalt to Dun Law
ImageP1120481 by Al, on Flickr

Fifescar Knowe
ImageP1120482 by Al, on Flickr

Fifescar to Dollar
ImageP1120484 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120485 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120487 by Al, on Flickr

Return route from Notman Law
ImageP1120489 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120490 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120491 by Al, on Flickr

dollar4.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Back at the campsite it's shower then some food - the weather is very changeable with settled spells of sunshine interspersed with rain/big winds. We walk into town for a drink then return. I hoped to be up early for the big circuit of the Talla Linfoots which means getting up at 6 (which is really 5 as the clocks have just gone forward) but that doesn't happen and I decide to have a slothful morning instead. We pack up and Allison asks if I'm doing a hill - I decide why not - I'll do Lochcraig Head from the Grey Mare's Tail, on our route back tot he M74 anyway. We park up at a quite busy Grey Mare's Tail car park and I set off up the track to Loch Skeen amid families and dog walkers. I'm not hanging about and power on up the steep hillside. The waterfall looks pretty but not as big as I'd expected. I press on along the shore of the loch, boggy here, and see the impressive bluff of Lochcraig Head in front of me. I elect for the direct route - which is steep but rewarding. I pech up to the summit just as the visibility palls into a white mist of snow/hail. Oh great! (later on, after getting home, loading the stats into hill-bagging.co.uk i find out that this has been my 1000th SIMM - much joy and cheer - only another 1184 to go :wink: )

Rosetta campsite
ImageP1120493 by Al, on Flickr

Grey Mare's Tail
ImageP1120494 by Al, on Flickr

Lochcraig Head (on right)
ImageP1120495 by Al, on Flickr

Lochcraig Head
ImageP1120496 by Al, on Flickr

Loch Skeen
ImageP1120497 by Al, on Flickr

Towards White Coomb
ImageP1120500 by Al, on Flickr

Steeply up Lochcraig Head
ImageP1120501 by Al, on Flickr

Summit Lochcraig to White Coomb
ImageP1120502 by Al, on Flickr

I could turn and go back but that seems a waste of height hard gained. The other option is to go over to White Coomb and do the outlier of Carrifran Gans - this would mean that when I do get around to the Linnfoots circuit it's much more manageable. It shouldn't take too long, i think - Allison is reading her book... OK lets go for it. I nip down the side of Lochcraig Head, pleased that I have taken the time to climb this particular hill individually as it would just be another bump on the bigger circuit if included that way. In the whiteness I find my way to Firthybrig Head and thence to Donald Cleuch Head and Firthhope Rig where I find myself ahead of a pair of walkers. I nip up to White Coomb then follow the SW shoulder to Carrifran - I can just see the outline of the hill in the snowy air. Once at the summit there's a decision to be made - how to get down? The eastern shoulder, taking me in the direction of the car park, is tightly swathed in forestry in the lower 300m or so - don't fancy having to force my way through that - which means taking thesouthern shoulder and having a few km to walk back along the road. It is a steep descent but along a fence/wall. There's a clearing near the bottom and I decide to head through the trees for the last section, saving a bit of time. Out on the road I powerwalk back to the car, find Allison still reading her book and make some lunch before heading back up the road.

ImageP1120504 by Al, on Flickr

White Coomb
ImageP1120505 by Al, on Flickr

Towards Carrifran Gans
ImageP1120507 by Al, on Flickr

Carrifran Gans
ImageP1120508 by Al, on Flickr

Summit Carrifran
ImageP1120510 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120511 by Al, on Flickr

Under Saddle Yoke
ImageP1120512 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120513 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120514 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120515 by Al, on Flickr

lochcraig.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

So not the most exciting of Easter Holiday weekends, at least by the standards of the last few years, but under the current circumstances and constraints a fairly productive one and the end of the Donald round is in sight now
Last edited by weaselmaster on Wed Oct 04, 2017 7:20 pm, edited 3 times in total.
User avatar
Hill Bagger
Posts: 2121
Munros:270   Corbetts:145
Grahams:165   Donalds:86
Sub 2000:383   Hewitts:31
Wainwrights:15   Islands:28
Joined: Aug 22, 2012
Location: Greenock

Re: Some Easter Donalds

Postby scottishkennyg » Tue Mar 29, 2016 8:51 pm

Nice mixed bag there Al, hope Alison gets back to full fitness soon to give you some company on those summits..Liked the snow falling images, very clear. Cheers Kenny
User avatar
Posts: 645
Joined: Jan 2, 2013

Re: 14 Easter Donalds...and my 1000th SIMM

Postby weaselmaster » Sat Apr 02, 2016 8:04 pm

Quite a marked change in the Linnfoot hills today - all the snow gone.
Think that's the first time I've been up them in reasonable weather.
User avatar
Hill Bagger
Posts: 2121
Munros:270   Corbetts:145
Grahams:165   Donalds:86
Sub 2000:383   Hewitts:31
Wainwrights:15   Islands:28
Joined: Aug 22, 2012
Location: Greenock

Re: 14 Easter Donalds...and my 1000th SIMM

Postby Alteknacker » Sun Apr 03, 2016 7:40 pm

That's a shocking number of hills, distance, and climb, especially given the less that optimum weather conditions. I'm really impressed at your commitment :)

As the yoof say (maybe not any longer???): Res - pect, man, res - pect!
User avatar
Posts: 3455
Munros:176   Corbetts:33
Joined: May 25, 2013
Location: Effete South (of WIgan, anyway)

1 person thinks this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).

Walkhighlands community forum is advert free

Your generosity keeps this site running.
Can you help support Walkhighlands and the online community by donating by direct debit?

Return to Walk reports - Scotland

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: emzmcvicar, LesMitchell and 86 guests